Larrah Mead, 12, and Audrey Douglass, 11, were two of the youngest students at the radio school course, but after four days of training they handled the complex studio equipment like professionals

October 6, 2021

Not many schoolchildren would sacrifice four precious days of their school holidays to train for a possible future career.

But for eight Yarraman State School students, the rare chance to learn how to be a radio presenter was simply too good an opportunity to pass up.

The eight youngsters all volunteered to take part in a four-day radio school jointly run by the Community Media Training Organisation (CMTO) and Yarraman-based community radio station, Wild Horse FM 997, last week.

The course was funded by CMTO and was led by former 4ZZZ station manager Grace Pashley, who now divides her time between the ABC and CMTO.

The first two days of training were held at Yarraman Library and the final two days were at Wild Horse’s studios inside Heritage House.

Over the course of the four days, the young trainees – who ranged in ages from 11 to 16 – were introduced to all aspects of modern radio broadcasting, which these days is largely driven by sophisticated computer systems and specialised software.

Their graduation exercise was to deliver a one-hour show which was broadcast on Wild Horse last Friday evening.

Wild Horse treasurer Jane Hodgkinson said the CMTO course wasn’t the first radio school that Wild Horse has run, but it was the first one aimed directly at young people who may become regular presenters in future.

“It’s part of our succession plan for the station,” Jane said.

“We know that not all the students may go on to a career in radio, but some might. And if they do, we hope they come back to Wild Horse as the next generation of presenters.

“Community radio plays a vital role in the media landscape and it’s very important we keep it.”

Jane said CMTO had offered the course to Wild Horse and the station was extremely grateful to them for doing so.

The station was also very appreciative of the effort put in by trainer Grace Pashley, who gave students the benefit of her many years of hands-on experience in the industry.

“We were very lucky to have such a high-calibre trainer, and the students really enjoyed the fun way Grace ran the course,” Jane said.

“With all the gear we have in the studio, radio can seem very daunting for newcomers, but Grace got the students up to speed very quickly.”

This week, CMTO will be following the course up with a one-hour training session on Zoom.

The short course will teach the students how to use special software to assemble a complete radio show from home.

The students will be able to access the station’s playlist remotely, do voice-overs, prepare advertisements and combine other elements to produce a complete show that can be uploaded directly into Wild Horse’s programming system.

Jane said Wild Horse’s committee were now looking forward to see what the station’s youngest radio stars come up with when they put their new-found skills into practice.

Footnote: Radio broadcasting celebrated its 101st birthday last month. The first commercial radio broadcast was a news program delivered on August 31, 1920, by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan.  The first public radio station in Australia opened in Sydney in November 1923 under the call sign 2SB.

Ellah Mead and Maye Douglass, both 15, also found the course taught them useful new skills
Wild Horse treasurer Jane Hodgkinson, from Pink Flamingo, and Grace Pashley from CMTO, who led the four-day radio school … both said they were delighted with the students’ performance

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